Sunday, January 30, 2011

Growing up With Jared: Hip Hip Hooray! (one of Dad's sick jokes...)

Growing up With Jared: Hip Hip Hooray! (one of Dad's sick jokes...): "My dad, Jared's grandpa, is getting a new hip tomorrow, so in thinking of what I might do for him, it's only natural that I've bee..."

Hip Hip Hooray! (one of Dad's sick jokes...)

My dad, Jared's grandpa, is getting a new hip tomorrow, so in thinking of what I might do for him, it's only natural that I've been thinking about all he has done for me over the years.  One time happened about 25 years ago; I was looking for a summer job and spent one horrible day working in the horse barn at a nearby race track.  The job was awful: long hours, nervous horses, and seedy people skulking around the stables.  Needless to say, I spent a 7-hour day mucking stalls, returned home, saw dad, and immediately started crying.  While Dad absolutely loves all of his kids, I think he has always had a soft spot for me, his most emotional, and perhaps overly sensitive youngest daughter. So, the minute I started crying, he said, "So, don't go back! You never have to go there again, not even to collect payment for the 7 hours you wasted there today." I was so relieved, so ready to forget that job and the awfulness that went with it. Dad's permission was all I needed in order to leave that unfortunate summer job and go back to waitressing at a local country club.
Jump ahead now to the day after Jared was born.  My parents had come as soon as they could to offer whatever support parents can offer when one of their children is experiencing a crisis.  I remember Dad, sitting in my hospital room. Mom and Jared's dad were somewhere else, and Dad promised me he would be in the room, waiting for Jared and me to come back from the required "new parent's" course that the hospital insists you attend before checking out.  This was the first time, that I felt embarrassed, sad, and even ashamed of my child whom I felt was so different from all the other babies.  I sat in a room with 4 or 5 other new mothers, all holding their infants.  While their faces  reflected that "new mom" fear that I'm sure all young mothers have,  they also glowed with a happiness that seemed so out of reach for me at that moment.  I held Jared with the blanket up by his face, keeping him turned toward me so that no one could see that he had Down Syndrome.  It would be the first of many times that I felt the alienation that can come when you have a child with special needs.  Before I go on, it is important for any new moms of kids like Jared to know that, over the years, that alienation has turned to pride, and that for the most part, the world has been good to Jared.  But now, I go back to that class, rather to right after the class, when I returned to my hospital room where Dad was alone, waiting, just like he said he would be. Much like the fateful day I returned from the race track, I burst into tears.  I sobbed and yelled that those other moms had normal babies, that they seemed so happy. But this time, my dad couldn't tell me, "So don't go back; you never have to go there again," even though everything in his eyes implored that I might be able to avoid the journey ahead.  But he did hear me. He opened his arms, hugged me, along with his newest grandson,  and said, "I know honey, but you will be ok; you will be ok."  I needed my dad so much right then. I'm glad he was there.  I wish we could be there with him tomorrow to let him know how much he means to this family, but Jared is taking care of that, trying right now to call his grandpa to wish him luck as he gets that new hip tomorrow.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

You're wearing THAT?!

My husband jokes sometimes when I share the inspirational parts of my life with Jared that he will then follow my excerpt with the "real story" know the times that I lose it because I'm trying like heck to have Jared see it my way, when he has no intention of ever doing that.  I never said that having a child with intellectual disabilities is always a picnic; in fact, I think that today, I'll share one of those "real stories".  Jared's fashion sense, like that of many other teenagers, is not always understood by people, ok, mainly, by me. There are times that I want to bang my head against the door because Jared insists on wearing something that is so out there, so hard to understand. Shirts that are too big...jeans that would fit a boy twice his size... I know that it shouldn't matter, that Jared is Jared and that no one really cares if he doesn't look perfect.  That's my hang-up, and I'll admit it.  But it drives me crazy! I'm sure it's me trying to protect him, but I'm also sure that I fall victim to the micro-managing that often accompanies a parent's busy life.  So, sometimes. I've actually had a certain shirt, go know, when Jared goes to look for it, I sit there, feeling a little proud of myself and a lot guilty as I picture the offending shirt with the stretched out collar and the "Rubbin is Racin" slogan displayed prominently on the front, tucked strategically in the very top corner of the hall closet... And, just the other day, the following words actually left my mouth as I looked at one of Jar's latest outfits: a tight sweatshirt, with nothing underneath it and the zipper open exposing his chest: "Where do you get your fashion sense, from the Red Light district in Amsterdam?"  Jared replied by looking at me blankly. I stomped out of the kitchen and into the livingroom, only to find my husband practically rolling on the floor, silently laughing at my verbal craziness. "That might have been the funniest thing I have ever heard you say in all of years that I have known you."  I was half way up the stairs when I burst out laughing myself! It's so funny the things I try to control when it comes to Jared. I don't know why I get hung up on his clothing choices; perhaps I never will.  The best I can hope for is that I can relax and realize that he's ok, that it doesn't really matter if he wears the ripped XXL New England Patriots shirt...around the house, that is....